Many of my patients talk about the Russian Invasion of Ukraine. They view mass murder and the total destruction of cities by an authoritarian regime. Some patients lose sleep, become hypervigilant, and are highly anxious or depressed. They become traumatized and show signs of PTSD on top of their own personal struggles. They are focused on the world news and lose sight of their personal lives. For some, the reasons they began psychotherapy move into the background of this horror, or make it much more complex. As health care providers, it is important to validate our patient’s personal experiences and then refocus care on what brought them to treatment. This is not an easy task as some patients additionally have their own severe trauma history. Let’s not forget about the effects of Covid-19 as well.
I have found that establishing a structure for each session is essential. Allowing patients to begin sessions in their own manner can be helpful for many and allows me to observe what their present experience is. Then there is the need to establish a personal focus on the patient’s condition. There is a need to find a balance in the treatment of outward trauma and personal trauma or illness. In some cases, the trauma links together and must be addressed as a theme or symptom cluster. And, then there are those patients who are primarily focused on their personal condition and don’t listen to the news.
My approach to therapy involves the interaction between the patient and myself in the present moment. Psychotherapy is then an existential-phenomenological experience of what the patient presents and the therapeutic process of psychosocial change within the therapeutic interaction. An aim of the therapy process is to find solutions to the presenting problems, build on the patient’s strengths and abilities, and hone in on their resilience. I want each person to leave my office feeling a sense of hope, safety, and psychological groundedness. As one size does not fit all, I believe that therapy needs to be tailored to the specific needs of each patient.
On a personal note, this war has brought back from memory thoughts about my ancestor’s trauma of moving to the US from Russia-Poland in the early 1900s due to Russian Cossack attacks on them. This has allowed me to develop a heightened sensitivity to religious, racial, ethnic, and other differences. I welcome patients from diverse populations to my practice.
My practice has significantly changed in the past two years. Due to the dramatic shift in the use of Telehealth, my son Daniel and niece Rachel who have been my practice partners, have moved on to their own practices. I have returned to solo practice as I had from 1999 to 2013 before I formed our group.
I believe that we are all adjusting well to these changes. In addition, Daniel just married and Rachel will be married in August. So, our family is undergoing significant change and we are building on our own resilience! I will be changing my office space this Fall and will be moving to the Glenview area. I will have a hybrid model of Telehealth and traditional in-person therapy practice. Please look for a summer newsletter that will provide additional information. The phone number listed will continue to be my practice contact number.
To refer new patients, couples, and families, or consult about a patient, feel free to email, text, or call me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (847) 363-5845. You may also text Rob confidentially on PerfectServe. Look me up on http://smithpsychotherapyassociates.com/.
*Thank you for taking a few moments to read my newsletter!
Individual-Couples-Family Therapy-Clinical Hypnotherapy
Consultation for Mental Health, Medical Conditions, Trauma, Pain, and Sleep Disorders